Archive for November, 2008
A: First things first, you should plan your website carefully. Determine your goals and lay out which marketing strategies and what outcome you expect from each. Is it your goal to generate leads? Do you want to have an online catalog? Would you like to compile a database of possible clients? List your objectives in quantifiable form (i.e. increase sales by 20%). This will help you to determine the success of your e-commerce site as time goes on.
Your next task will be to determine the things your possible clients will want and need to know prior to making a purchase. These things may be:
• A detailed product/service description complete with pricing guides, key features, product specs, et cetera.
• Customer reviews and testimonials, reports and studies, customer success stories and positive remarks made by prior customers.
• A section that covers frequently asked questions (FAQ) to answer questions and cut down on the need for one-on-one assistance.
When planning the construction of your site, you should focus primarily on customer use. Potential clients will want a site that’s easy to use, easy to navigate, and answers the many questions most consumers have prior to spending money on a product. You should strive to create a site map that will outline each page of your site, starting with the home page. You should also plan to implement the use of tools that will track and measure your site activity (i.e. where do customers click most often, and whether or not those clicks lead to a purchase). This way, as you build your e-commerce web site, you will be able to compare your goals against your results.
As you build, you will want to make certain you’re using the right tools. Your solidly laid out plan is just the beginning. Next comes the actual construction of your e-commerce web site. Many business will turn to professionals (a very powerful tool in web building). The professional web site builders design and create outstanding web sites. There are unlimited sources of contact for professional web builders. Use the phone book, or better yet, look online and you will quickly find a firm in your area.
On the other hand, maybe you’re not budgeted to have professional help building your web site. Many successful e-commerce sites are constructed using tools that are designed to help the layperson create a professional and polished site on their own, without the aid of HTML experts. Again, resources for such sites can be found all over the Internet and you can even find great web building programs to download for free.
Let’s review. In order to build a successful e-commerce web site, your primary goal is to keep your customer in mind. Determine what you’d like to see if you were investigating a product and do your best to build a web page that meets those specs.
A: So you have decided to hire a professional to do your web design. The problem is that not all of them are professional. Some are working with knowledge that is out of date, and some of them are working out of the basement that belongs to their parents!
What you need to know:
1. Qualifications are worthless. Unless the person has a proper graphical design background, almost all of the web design training is learned at a community college part time and not very credible. Unless the person you are qualifying can explain XHTML and CSS to you and why they are good for your website, stay clear.
2. A good web designer will have a diverse portfolio and lots of attractive sites they have built for their customers. They will also be able to explain to you why they designed the site the way it looks. If a person does not have a substantial portfolio, get them to do a first draft design to display their skill to you.
3. Your designer candidate needs to realize that they are building your website for users. This means all users regardless of technical ability and which web browser they are using. Amateur web designers tend to come up with what they think are impressive looking pages while ignoring the visitors who will come to your site. Ask the prospect which browsers they will test the web site on? (Answer: as many as possible) What is the purpose of the website? (Answer: explain the point of the site very simply).
4. Many web designers have no idea what to charge for their services. When you ask, you will get bids form $50 to $5,000. Both of these are ridiculous as one of them may be from a non English-speaking foreigner and the other a committee that will accomplish little. Look for an independent individual as opposed to a corporate type person. Be willing to negotiate the price but never agree to a let them do whatever it takes to make a good site and pay by the hour!
5. Be very wary of any web designer who tries to sell you a whole package such as domain name, web hosting, etc. Most of these types of operations have huge flaws in one area or the other. They will either be web hosting specialists who think designing web pages is easy or designers who are reselling some cheap hosting package for a huge profit. It’s best to buy the hosting yourself.
Keep these five points in mind when looking for that perfect web designer.